An aphorism by James Geary, author of The World in a Phrase and Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorists.
James Geary | December 2008 issue
Teeth are the feet of the mouth. Overlooked and unloved, they crunch through rough vegetal underbrush and wade knee-deep through vast morasses of meat. Teeth are remorseless, durable, cruel. They can grind, gnash or bite through almost anything, given long enough to chew. “Age and youth have the same appetites but not the same teeth,” Polish author Magdalena Samozwaniec wrote. Yet we tend to ignore them, unless they cause us pain. Who notices their feet unless there is a stone in their shoe? At other times, we just brush them off, childishly thinking that if lost they will grow back again. But that’s not true. Missing teeth leave holes in everything we do. Without feet in our mouths, we couldn’t even eat our words.